Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Natalka, and I am from Ukraine, a beautiful European country. I’ve spent all my life in Ukraine. I have never been abroad, and my biggest dream is to travel and see the world with my own eyes. I am very family-oriented – I’m a stay at home mom to my gorgeous son, Oleg, and a loving wife to my husband, Yaroslav. I am also in love with embroidery, so I run Skrynka, where I sell items I embroider by hand. Last fall, my husband and I opened ReComputing, where we sell geeky items made of recycled computer parts.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
My son is almost two years old, and I do not have much time for anything other than my family and creating. Before my son was born, I worked as bank office clerk. I can definitely say that that is not something I would wish to get back to.
What’s the most important question a couple should ask their wedding vendor?
This is a very hard question for me. My husband and I were deeply in love and believed that having a wedding was not going to add anything to that. At the same time, we wanted to make our parents and grandparents happy – they were so excited to see us get married. We decided to have a very simple wedding but to make it as memorable as possible. Every little detail was meaningful. I designed and made my own dress. It was important for me to have a dress that would express my own style and be unique, not something you could just buy in a store.
What’s the most memorable custom item you’ve created for a wedding?
I haven’t had the chance to create a special custom-embroidered wedding jewelry design yet — I would be very excited to get such a request. However, I did have a memorable wedding experience as an Etsy seller in my other store. Once, we had a bride purchase cufflinks for the groomsman. She came back and bought the same cufflinks for the groom. Then she came back again and got a few more, so all of her beloved men in the wedding party wore our circuit board cufflinks!
What would be the title of your memoir?
Nothing is Impossible. As of now, I do not have much to brag about, but I have a great goal. I have a dream. I believe that nothing is impossible if you really apply yourself and do your best. In Ukraine, we joke that if you really want to, you can fly a spaceship. Every joke has a bit of truth in it – work hard, do not give up, believe in yourself, and you will reach your goal.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I love embroidery. Most of all, I am inspired by traditional Ukrainian designs. The rich tradition of homemade Ukrainian fabrics and handmade embroidery goes back many centuries and is a national treasure. Traditionally, every bride had to embroider her wedding outfit. As far back as in the Middle Ages, every Ukrainian household had a special place for an icon adorned by an embroidered festive towel known as the rushnyk. The designs themselves are full of deep meaning, made up of traditional ethnic symbols that signify health, wealth, love, and happiness.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade for me is a multifaceted concept, and all of the facets are positive. Most of all, handmade is unique. Any item that is made by hand is not like a mass-produced one; it is one of a very few and it has a distinct personality. A person who owns such an item is accentuating his or her image with that individuality.
Second, handmade means that it is made with love and care. Every design has been meticulously crafted, every detail refined again and again. It carries its maker’s emotions and warmth. Very often, a handmade item made to order becomes a favorite item. Who knows — maybe that happens because it carries the maker’s positive thoughts and emotions.
Third, it is important to me that a handmade item facilitates a relationship between two people – the creator and the buyer. By purchasing a handmade item, you are supporting a specific person and his or her family. You are not just paying for supplies and electricity needed for a machine at a huge factory; it is far more personal.
Finally, handmade often involves recycling and is eco-friendly.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
Besides traditional Ukrainian designs, I am inspired by practically everything I see. Most often, I get ideas for my designs while I mentally go through and analyze everything that happened in a day right before I go to sleep. When an idea comes to me, I reach for my notepad and write it down. I love to read the Etsy Blog, especially the Quit Your Day Job series. They are a great source of inspiration. These stories tell me that it is important to do what you love the most, and pour a lot of love into it. And I just happen to love embroidery!
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I always enjoyed handicrafts, and I learned to sew, knit, embroider and weave in my childhood. However, I do not regard myself as a master. To me, being a master is very special, it is not for mere mortals. A master is able to see the world in his own way and to invent something that has never been done before.
How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process begins from studying samples of antique embroidery. I usually come up with a few variations of a new pattern and make a few sketches. As I draw, I think of the colors that would be best, then I select the thread and start embroidering. Sometimes, it is too hard to make all the decisions, and I leave my sketches alone for months while I think the design through. Only when all details are perfect is it ready to be embroidered and shown to the world.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I like to watch movies while I embroider. If I ever had a chance, I would pick into the studio of Woody Allen. I love all of his films and I am dying to know where his inspiration comes from. I always get an idea for a new design while I am watching one of his movies. This is a bit strange, since there is never anything embroidery-related there.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A few years ago my mother gave me a rushnyk that was hand-embroidered by my grandmother. It is absolutely beautiful! It is made of homemade fabric and adorned with red and black embroidery. It became even more special to me when my mother told me that this rushnyk hung on the wall above her bed when she was a child, and she sometimes imagined that the designs were talking to her.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
To get out of a creative rut, I have to completely get away from my projects, physically and mentally. I try my best not to think about projects, and spend more time with my family. I throw myself into housework, or even rearrange furniture in our apartment. It really helps to switch and do something different. For example, sometimes I help my husband to make items from recycled circuit boards for our other Etsy store.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I am not quite sure where I would like to be in ten years. However, I know what I would like to do when I get older. I would like to live somewhere on a seashore, have a big family, get together with my children and grandchildren often, spend holidays together and have lots of fun.